3 Million U.S. Households Making Over $150,000 Are Still Renters

By Wall Street Journal

More high-earning Americans are opting to rent than in the past, with the number of renter households earning $150,000 or more a year rising 87% between 2016 and 2021. This amounts to more than 3 million households, according to five-year estimates from the Census Bureau. Will Parker, a reporter at The Wall Street Journal, examines what is driving the demand for multifamily and single-family rental communities.

No city saw a bigger increase in higher-earning renters than Austin, Texas, where renter households making $150,000 or more rose by 154% over the five-year period, according to an analysis of the census data by researchers at RentCafe, an apartment-listing website. Cities across the South and Southwest—from Nashville, Tenn., to Atlanta and Phoenix—also experienced large increases in these renters after many highly paid workers moved to the region during the pandemic.

The number of Americans earning more than $150,000 has been rising in recent years. But higher mortgage rates and steeper home prices have put home purchases beyond the reach of many of these relatively high-earners. Other affluent renters can’t find a house that meets all their expectations, or want to rent in a new city before making a decision on what to buy. Some want to remain mobile and prefer the flexibility of renting over the commitment of homeownership.

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